Winds Knock Out Power to Over 600,000 Across Eastern U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- More than 600,000 customers from Michigan to Virginia were without electricity early Monday as winds reaching 75 miles (121 kilometers) toppled power lines, canceled flights and possibly knocked a nuclear reactor offline.

Gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour may blow through New York as a cold front moves across the Northeast and a patch of low pressure spins up over New England, said Rich Otto, a forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. About 600 flights have been canceled, according to FlightAware, an airline tracking company in Houston.

In New York City, “the strongest winds will occur during the day” Monday, Otto said.

Dominion Energy Inc., American Electric Power Co., FirstEnergy Corp. and National Grid Plc were among utilities and power providers working to restore electric service. About 180,000 FirstEnergy customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia were without power as of 8:30 a.m. local time, according to the company’s website.

High winds may be the reason FirstEnergy’s Perry nuclear power plant in Ohio automatically shut down early Monday, Jennifer Young, a company spokeswoman, said in an email. While the shutdown remains under review, gusts caused widespread power outages Sunday “which can disturb the voltage on the grid” and affect the plant.

The area about 35 miles northeast of Cleveland has had sustained winds of around 40 miles per hour, with gusts exceeding 60 miles per hour.

High winds cause travel problems for airlines and large trucks navigating interstate highways and other roads. A high wind warning in in effect in New York City until 6 p.m.

Otto said a storm that brought blizzard conditions to the upper Great Lakes is behind the windstorm. While the gusts may bring travel delays around the region, snow will remain far north of the major East Coast cities.

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